InHouse Records

Cultural Impact Development Fund investment

The prison-based record label is using its loan to extend its services from behind bars to ongoing support upon release.

InHouse Records

Region: London
Discipline: Music
Investment size: £77,000

As the world’s first fully functional record label launched in prison, InHouse Records, is a label for change with a mission to see safer communities, fewer victims of crime, and for prisons – rehabilitation and employment with dignity and aspiration. Since launching in September 2017, InHouse’s work has engaged hard-to-reach populations both in prisons and through-the-gate, through music-based training programmes for prisoners and ex-offenders. With a focus on using music to improve core competencies and employability skills, its long-term goal is to help graduates lead empowered, fulfilling, and crime-free lives and, ultimately, to reduce re-offending.

The organisation has two programme strands to support people both in the prison system and upon release. Clients of the in-prison programme engage with InHouse four days a week through a combination of group and individualised curriculum, including instrumental lessons, songwriting, recording, label management, and showcase production. Through developing sustained relationships creating enabling environments, and taking an strengths-based approach, InHouse supports its clients to develop their core competencies and employability skills while undertaking all the work needed to run a fully functional record label. As more of its clients have been released, InHouse has also begun developing its through-the-gate offer to ensure continued opportunities for engagement and development.

Building Financial Resilience

When InHouse approached CIDF for investment, it was in a position to grow its in-prison services. However, the Founder & CEO was conscious of the risk of growing too quickly and without the complementary through-the-gate services for graduates of the programme upon their release. After consultation from the graduates to develop the most effective plan to deliver the through-the-gate services, the graduates expressed a desire to continue to develop their music-making skills, work with music industry professionals and mentors, and gain access to employment opportunities in the music industry. InHouse Records therefore requested an unsecured loan of £77,000 to develop a partnership model with Caroline International (a division of Universal Music Group) and Sony Publishing, leading music label and publisher, and Pirate Studios, a well-established studio company, to deliver its through the gate services to graduates.

The investment allows InHouse to secure space at Pirate Studios’ multiple locations, serving both as a safe space for graduates of its in-prison programme to continue their path towards rehabilitation and to record music under the InHouse label. The additional income generated under the InHouse label will provide a source of earned income to subsidise the organisation’s operations. As graduates may move to a variety of locations upon their release from prison, working with Pirate Studios will allow the organisation to shift venues quickly to meet the changing geography needs of its graduates. InHouse’s future relationships with Caroline/Universal and Sony Publishing will provide further opportunities for its graduates to progress personally, professionally, and musically, either as record label apprentices or as signed artists on the label.

With a focus on using music to improve core competencies and employability skills, the organisation's long-term goal is to help graduates lead empowered, fulfilling, and crime-free lives and, ultimately, to reduce re-offending. 

Impact Capacity Development

As part of the investment process, InHouse also received one-to-one support developing its approach to monitoring and evaluating the impact of its work. From inception, it knew that having robust evidence of impact would be key to developing relationships with prisons and the wider criminal justice system. As a result, it already had embedded systems of collecting regular evaluation data.

Through working with CIDF, InHouse has begun to take this approach to the next level. It received support to identify the wider evidence base on the effectiveness of music-based interventions in the criminal justice sector. This allowed it to flesh out its Theory of Change and more clearly articulate how its work would contribute to its long-term goal of reducing re-offending. It also developed a clearer framework outlining its approach to collecting and analysing evaluation data – a key tool for an organisation that is swimming in data and needs a streamlined way to ensure that management gets the information it needs.

InHouse also worked with CIDF to develop a five-year impact development plan, with annual targets for its outputs, outcomes, and on-going efforts to improve its capacity for delivering and managing its impact. This plan allowed InHouse to take a longer-term strategic view of its impact. For the purposes of the CIDF loan, which offers financial incentives in return for social impact, the targets set out in this plan will also determine any reductions in its interest rate.